Gainesville Strives To Become Florida’s Technology Hub

Florida Innovation Hub, located in downtown Gainesville. (photo by Samuel Navarro).
Florida Innovation Hub, located in downtown Gainesville. Samuel Navarro / WUFT News

On the third Thursday of every month, a group of entrepreneurs from different industry sectors meet at Bar Five, a local bar-restaurant in downtown, to toast and share business stories in what they call the startup hour.

Florida’s tax-friendly laws and Gainesville’s status as a college town makes it an enticing location for tech companies.

Patti Breedlove, director of the Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator at the University of Florida, said Florida’s status as a non-state income tax state makes it attractive to incoming tech companies.

A non-state income tax means individuals in Florida don’t pay income taxes at a state level.

“If you look at national data…the Gainesville and Alachua area really stand out because of the $700 million of annual research at UF and the high average educational level in this town,” she said.

The presence and state-wide funding of institutions like Santa Fe College and UF offer Gainesville an edge over other cities in Florida, said Susan Davenport, the vice president of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce Susan Davenport,

The chamber works to move greater Gainesville closer to their vision of becoming a global hub for talent, innovation and opportunity.

The chamber itself has gained notoriety.

In 2014, the organization was accredited for the second time as a 5-star chamber of commerce by the United States Chamber of Commerce, putting it in the top 1 percent of all chambers of commerce nationwide, according to its mission statement.

“We believe and know from our strategy development that we have great assets and expertise to become a high-tech city,” Davenport said.


The Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator, founded in 1990, is an award-winning program at UF. It’s designed to help bioscience startup companies grow and establish their brand in the health industry.

The incubator, located in Alachua County, helps startup companies with the high cost of bringing products to market, complex regulations and the need for specialized facilities, according to their website.

With a population of over 127,000, Gainesville is the largest city in north central Florida, according to the United States Census Bureau.

Privately-owned incubators like Starter Space and Skyward Capital, both located downtown, help people develop ideas by supplying office space and business possibilities to help them grow as companies.

Innovation Square, also located downtown, is a new 40-acre space. Entrepreneurs live and work within the community space built by UF. It was designed to bring together companies focused on innovation.

The space features the Florida Innovation Hub, which serves as an incubator for startup companies. It offers clients direct access to legal and economic counseling, venture capital firms and office space.

The innovation hub is now home to nearly three dozen tech companies, including a European company.

Zeeko Ltd., a company from the UK recently set up their U.S. operations at Innovation Square, said Jane Muir, the director of the Florida Innovation Hub.

Companies in the hub have created 603 new jobs, contributing to the local economy. Between 2004 and 2010, companies from the Sid Martin program donated $753 million to Alachua County, according to a 2011 UF report.

In 2013, Nanotherapeutics, Inc., a company started at the UF Sid Martin incubator program, signed a 10-year contract for $358 million with the Department of Defense to build and operate a 180,000 square-foot advanced drug development and manufacturing facility in Alachua next spring, Breedlove said.

Pasteuria Bioscience, Inc., is another company started at the Sid Marin incubator. It was recently acquired for $113 million by Syngenta, the world’s largest agricultural business company, she said.

UF also has the fourth-highest record in the country of spin-outs for commercialization of ideas. This means prototypes eventually become final products. It is only surpassed by the University of California, the University of Texas systems and MIT, Davenport said.

“The beauty of that is this is all happening in one campus,”she said. “The cross collaboration needed to develop a technology hub is here.”

About Samuel Navarro

Samuel is a reporter for WUFT News who may be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news

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